Lough View Kids
Jun 6, 2024

Integrated Education in Ireland with Educators & Students at Lough View (podcast)

A radical approach to education intentionally brings diverse points of view and religious and social practices together at a primary school in Northern Ireland.

By Templeton Staff

A school in Belfast was created to bring diverse points of view and religious and social practices together. 

For this Stories of Impact podcast, students and educators share how this impacts classroom culture and individual lives, and how it might contribute to peace-building across Northern Ireland — and potentially, the world.


Stories of Impact writer and host Tavia Gilbert introduces the episode:

"In a previous podcast, Stories of Impact aired a deep-dive episode that explored the groundbreaking education of some Northern Ireland high school students — a curriculum designed to teach them to think critically about governance, political polarization, and the legacy of often bloody societal division in their nation throughout the generations known as The Troubles. We heard how these young adults were writing their futures with new ideas about reconciliation and peace-making. That story and today’s stand alone, but they definitely inform each other.

Today we bring you another story about revolutionary education in Northern Ireland, this time exploring the impact of teaching young children to not just tolerate difference and diversity, but to seek it out, embrace it, and celebrate it. Our episode explores the history of Lough View Integrated Primary and Nursery School, a school founded 30 years ago to intentionally create a space where diverse points of view and religious and social practices could come together, and what’s remarkable is that this vision came to life fully five years before the Good Friday Accords birthed a fragile national peace.

Lough View was established in Belfast by a group of parents who didn’t want to send their children to a segregated school that would perpetuate bias and prejudice that had fed the decades of violence between Protestants and Catholics. Instead, this small group created a totally different paradigm for their children, and their children’s education."

“Nurturing our children from the very beginning enables them to have a greater understanding about themselves, which then leads to them wanting to share about themselves with other people.”

Emma Black, Vice Principal, Lough View Integrated Primary and Nursery School
Insights from the educators

"The main thing that makes the school different from other schools is the fact that it's an integrated school. But not only is it an integrated school, we're a rights-respecting school, and that means at the the heart of everything we do, we are talking to the children about what it means to be integrated — which touches everything in their lives. Integrated schools in this country were set up initially due to the Catholic/Protestant divide, if you like — the two sides of the community. But now integration is so much more. It's about gender. It's about race. It's about ability and disability. It's about social class," explains educator Calum Irvine, whose year-seven students, ages 10 and 11, are the oldest children in the school.

Emma Black, Vice Principal of the school, says: "We find that by nurturing our children from the very beginning, that enables them to have a greater understanding about themselves, which then leads to them wanting to share about themselves with other people...In our school it is very, very important that we say 'some people believe, some people experience' and that the children are not taught that this is what we believe or what they should believe...It's providing them with a balance of opinion and encouraging them to talk about the differences, but also what's common around the facts that are there as well."

"The way that Northern Ireland continues to evolve, I think [integrated education] is becoming increasingly more important. We seek that diversity from entry to the school, it means we automatically have it here, it's not done by accident. It's becoming increasingly important because of not only the national, and even the UK, issues that are faced,  things like Brexit and migration issues that have become so important, but also international issues, the conflict in Gaza and the conflict in Ukraine. It's really important for children who will go on to be future leaders, future politicians to have those values of respect for diversity instilled at a very young age," shares Lough View Principal Sean Spillane.

Tune in to hear more from educators Emma Black, Calum Irvine, and Sean Spillane, as well as students Bashanti, Dylan, Emma, Laila, Nina, and Sophie.

Learn about TWCF's Listening & Learning in a Polarized World priority.

Built upon the award-winning video series of the same name, Templeton World Charity Foundation’s “Stories of Impact” podcast features stories of new scientific research on human flourishing that translate discoveries into practical tools. Bringing a mix of curiosity, compassion, and creativity, journalist Richard Sergay and producer Tavia Gilbert shine a spotlight on the human impact at the heart of cutting-edge social and scientific research projects supported by TWCF.